Media spotlight criticized in Carson case

March 10, 2010 9:35:44 AM PST
Attorneys representing ABC11 asked a federal judge to throw out a request for copies of hundreds of news stories about the tragic shooting death of UNC student Eve Carson Wednesday.

It was part of an ongoing legal fight to move the federal trial for Demario Atwater, one of Carson’s suspected killers, from North Carolina to Virginia.

Atwater’s defense team had subpoenaed several news agencies, asking for print and video copies of all published reports about the Carson case.

But the judge told Atwater's attorneys they must do their own research and refused to force media outlets to collect all the stories for them.

The defense has asked for a change of venue, citing public outrage sparked by intense media coverage. They contend Atwater can’t get a fair trial on federal kidnapping and carjacking charges because details about him and his co-defendant Lawrence Lovette Jr. have tainted the potential jury pool.

Defense attorneys have suggested information about Atwater and Lovette’s juvenile crime history and probation records that have been widely reported may be inadmissible in court.

Atwater’s defense team conducted a statewide phone survey to support their request for a change of venue. Their data suggests more than half of the 1,400 people who participated in the survey believe Atwater killed Eve Carson.

If convicted, the survey showed most believe Atwater should get the death penalty. Federal prosecutors have argued that the phone survey is flawed. With nearly a million potential jurors to choose from, they say Atwater is guaranteed to find at least 12 impartial ones by his May trial date.

Jury selection for the federal trial has already started. Both Atwater and Lovette are facing state murder charges. Lovette is neither facing federal charges nor the death penalty. His age at the time of the crime made him ineligible for the death penalty on state charges.

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